5 tips to lecture without lecturing

  •  When a student asked me to lecture more, I was surprised.  She explained that sometimes she just wants the teacher to explain.  She was struggling to pick up the material from readings.  I do not like to lecture BUT I have learned that my personal distaste for the lecture format does not meet the needs of all my students. Some students benefit from hearing the information out loud.  If you are like me and aren't a great lecturer, or even if you are, here are my 5 tips for the lecture:

  • Provide support for note-taking:  I like to give my students three choices for notes, whether they use interactive notebooks or not: fill-in, outline and on your own.  Some students need more support than others when it comes to notes.  Fill-in notes can be a great help. 

    The notes are aligned to the presentation so that students easily can follow along.  It helps with focus and content.  A blank outline with headers and sub-headers supports students who are a little more savvy in their note-taking. 

    This is a great tool for students as they get closer to college.  Some students are ready to take notes on their own.  They create their own note structure.  Either way it is student choice.
  • Go visual:  Try not to just talk.  A quick slide deck can help students visualize the material and keep their interest.  I like to add pictures, arrows, and even animations.  

  • Keep it short: Limit the lecture to 10 minutes.  First, you are likely to go over the ten minutes.  Short lectures keep students' interest.  
  • Encourage interaction: a lecture can be a discussion as well.  Incorporate questions into your presentation to get students reflecting on the content immediately. How does the content relate to events today?  What do they notice about realism?  Make sure the questions are open-ended and not just an assessment.  This is just to get students thinking about the content.  Ask students if they have questions.
  • Reinforce the content:  follow the brief lecture with an activity to reinforce the content. 

    Perhaps students go on a gallery walk or begin a newspaper project that will cover material from a series of lectures or perhaps students create a poster on the content or even keep it simple with a reflective writing activity.  Customize the activity to the content.  
Lecture, even on a limited basis, is still a struggle for me but I can see the benefits for my students.  Ultimately, it is about making it work for you.